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I Apologize For Ever Having Voted For Houston Councilmember C.O. Bradford—Bradford Merits No Support From Voters Of Either Major Party

I apologize for ever having voted for Houston City Councilmember C.O Bradford.

(Above–Councilmember Bradford.)

I made this error when I voted for Mr. Bradford in 2008 to be Harris County District Attorney.

Mr. Bradford, a former Houston Police Chief, was the Democratic nominee for District Attorney.

I voted based on party when I should have simply not voted in the D.A. race. Neither candidate was worthy of support in that race.

While he did sound like a Democrat in 2008, Chief Bradford admitted at the time that he did not do all he could have done as Chief to deal with the deeply-flawed Houston crime lab.

As a current member of Houston City Council, Mr. Bradford often makes little effort to sound like a Democrat anymore.  This despite the fact he was happy to take Democratic votes in 2008.

From Councilmember Bradford’s web page

‘The City of Houston tends to over regulate. Understandably, the City must regulate from time to time for health and safety reasons. Even these interventions should be a limited, measured approach with broad substantive input from the citizens and businesses being impacted. Today, businesses and citizens are strapped with too many taxes, fees, and permitting requirements. Why is this so? Well, the answer can be found in one word – “spending. …”

I’m certain many would agree with this statement. Fine. But Democrats believe government has a role in making our communities better, and in making the lives of our citizens better. I’m sure folks who agree with Mr. Bradford’s minimal government views can find a real Republican to support.

You can be a Democrat and favor fiscal restraint. Nobody is in favor of waste. We do not have unlimited cash to run government. Yet what Mr. Bradford is doing here is identifying himself with the extreme and harmful budget cutting advocated by many in the current political climate, and offering nothing constructive for Democrats looking for fiscal moderation, but not looking to be Republicans. If given the choice between a Republican and a Republican—People will pick a Republican.

Mr. Bradford, as a Democrat, has the obligation to offer more than just a reflexive opposition to spending.

Now Mr. Bradford is teaming up with Republicans and others to attack the storm water drainage fee that Houston voters passed at the ballot box last November.

Some are upset that churches will have to pay a fair share of the fees required to address chronic flooding in Houston.

Councilman Bradford will be appearing with conservative Houston Councilmember Mike Sullivan and conservative Paul Bettencourt as panelists at a Houston Area Pastor Council meeting about the storm water fee.

This meeting will be held at Houston’s First Baptist Church. According to the Houston Chronicle, First Baptist is currently spending $12.6 million to renovate a Worship Center and $3 million to upgrade other facilities.

Mr. Bettencourt is best known for being reelected as Harris County Tax-Assessor Collector in 2008, and then quitting the post just a few weeks after the election.

That is some company Democrat C.O. Bradford keeps.

It is not  clear why Mr. Bradford opposes the storm water fee given that he said the following on his campaign page—

“…. Let’s get back to a commitment to basic sanitation (garbage & water), infrastructure issues, police and fire. Core services are the City of Houston’s business!”

What is more basic to a hurricane -prone semi-tropical place like Houston than addressing flooding with new storm water infrastructure?

There has been speculation that Councilmember Bradford may run for Mayor.

Mr. Bradford is not saying one way or another.

Which political party does Mr. Bradford truly support? Which city services does he see as essential? What are his political motives?

The only thing you can be certain of is that Councilman Bradford does not merit the support of any principled voter.

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Supports Renew Houston And Red Light Cameras—She Asks That You Please Do The Same

Houston Mayor Annise Parker recently discussed the various City of Houston ballot propositions in a conference telephone call with local political bloggers.

Here is Kraftwerk’s video The Telephone Call. It’s a classic.

(Below–A video snippet from Kraftwerk’s The Telephone Call.)

I don’t have any verbatim quotes from the Mayor’s call because I was knitting during the call instead of taking notes.

Please don’t tell the Mayor because she won’t approve, but knitted graffiti is all the rage. See below–

(Photo by Noah Sussman)

Don’t worry though, the essence of the Mayor’s words are clear in my mind to the extent that anything is clear in my mind.

There are three issues on the Houston ballot in 2010. Mayor Parker favors all three of these issues. See encourages all her supporters and all people of Houston to vote for these issues.

Proposition One is the so-called Renew Houston initiative.  This issue will levy a fee on property owners that will go to a dedicated fund that will be used to address wastewater removal and flooding in Houston.

Mayor Parker says that this initiative will use the funds it raises for only the stated purpose of curbing flooding in our city, and that she is aware of no other solution that has been proposed for this longtime problem.

She says that everybody has to pay up for this, because once exemptions are granted to one group of people or one type of property, then others will want an exemption.

Where would the pleas for exemptions end?

Again—I’m giving you the essence of the Mayor’s remarks because I was baking a pie during the call instead of taking notes.

Proposition Two on our ballot is so tedious to describe that someone is going to have to slap me across the face to keep me awake to write the next two sentences.

(Below–Former President George W. Bush slapping Houston-area Congressman Al Green across the face)

Proposition 2 will, for one time only, lessen the residency requirement for Houston City Council candidates to have lived in their district before the November, 2011 municipal elections. Since council redistricting will take place after census results are announced next year , some incumbents may find themselves in new territory.

(Below–Sometimes the ground shifts beneath your feet.)

Mayor Parker supports Proposition as a basic measure of fairness. Redistricting happens and folks deserve a chance at keeping their seats.

This is, in the main, the substance of the Mayor’s thoughts on Prop. 2. I did not take the exact notes because  I was playing pinball during the call.

(Below—KISS pinball machine. Photo taken by The Consumerist.)

Proposition 3 is red light cameras. If you vote Yes on 3, you will be voting to keep red light cameras in Houston.

Mayor Parker urges you to vote Yes on 3. Her bottom line concern is safety on our roads. She wants drivers in Houston to please stop at red lights. She feels red light cameras lessen the number of people running red lights.

That is pretty much what she said on the matter. I don’t have the exact notes because I was driving while on the call.

(Using the phone. Photo by Edbrown05)

Houston Mayor Annise Parker asks her fellow Houstonians to support all three Houston propositions on the 2010 General Election ballot.

She feels that these issues reflect good public policy that will benefit the people of our city.

I agree with the Mayor on these ballot questions.

Here are my Texas Liberal endorsements for 2010.

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vote Yes On Renew Houston—Though If They Fix Flooding Like They Run A Campaign….

Renew Houston is Proposition 1 in Houston on the November ballot.

This initiative will levy a fee of property owners to address wastewater runoff issues in Houston and help curb flooding.

The issue is being pushed by engineers who will profit from the program.

Yet at the same time, flooding is a big deal in Houston. Many people in all parts of the city  would benefit from this concern being addressed.

I support Proposition 1 because I believe it will create jobs and manage flooding.

This is an issue you should spend some time pondering for yourself. It involves a lot of money over many years to possibly fix a big problem. It is an issue with both strong pros and cons. I personally feel the good outweighs the bad on this question. However, this is the type of concern that defies easy ideological characterization.

Here is the Renew Houston web home.

The Houston Chronicle supports Proposition 1.

My fellow blogger Charles Kuffner backs Issue 1.

Here is a Houston Chronicle article detailing the views of those who oppose the issue.

While I am for Proposition One, special note must be made of how poorly this campaign has been conducted by Renew Houston boosters.

Renew Houston has picked a needless and avoidable fight with the Houston Independent School Board.

Renew Houston has also engaged in an unnecessarily angry dispute with some black members of the Houston City Council.

If Renew Houston “fixes” flooding with the same skills they have shown in running a campaign, you see below what our streets in Houston would look like.

If they fix flooding like they run a campaign, we will all be underwater.

(Downtown Houston after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.)

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Renew Houston Gives Me Chance To Run Photo Of Rock

Issue 1 on the November ballot in Houston is about funding a massive wastewater removal program with the intent of reducing flooding in Houston.

The issue is called Renew Houston. I’m sure that name was focus group tested.

The issue will be funded by taxing property owners.

Stace Medellin as Dos Centavos says that Renew Houston will address a problem and create jobs.

I think he has a point, but I’m writing this post because I want to run a picture of a rock on my blog.

The Houston Independent  School District will have to pay money if Issue 1 passes.

This story in the Houston Chronicle details the fact that Houston schools do not want to pay this money. They say that if they have to pay this money that they might have to layoff teachers.

Here is how the Renew Houston folks responded

“HISD should do a more responsible job of managing taxpayer funds before laying off teachers and opposing a fiscally responsible plan to keep its students safe.

And—

“HISD has been rocked by at least two scandals this year, from lax oversight of more than a billion dollars in bond funds to spending millions on unnecessary overtime.”

What is the point of the venom of this response? Everybody is looking for money at this point. Why pick an unneeded fight with the schools?  Could not this issue have been seen in advance?

The Renew Houston people have a lot of money for ads and promoting their ballot issue.

Houston schools are strapped for cash.

Here is where I get to run a picture of a rock.

For coming up with this response Renew Houston was — As dumb as a rock.

Renew Houston needs to work this out. Already the reflexive anti-tax crowd opposes this issue. Why fight when you do not have to fight?

Below–-A diorite rock. Photo taken by Slim Sepp.”


John Coby at Bay Area Houston has also written about this matter.

Martha Griffin at musings has also commented on this concern.

October 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Renew Houston—Why The Regressive Funding? Who Gets The Jobs? Where Are The Green Plans?

There is an effort to place on the November 2010 ballot in Houston an initiative to fund a large multi-year program to strengthen and rebuild Houston’s streets and drainage system. This plan is called Renew Houston.

(Above–Urban runoff. Picture taken by Robert Lawton.)

As anybody who lives in Houston knows, this is an important concern.

Here is the Renew Houston web page.

Here is a Houston Chronicle story on this issue.

A Renew Houston press release says this initiative  is “citizen-driven.” What are the odds of something being “citizen-driven” in a city like Houston where turnout  for mayor’s races often runs around 15%?

Renew Houston could post a list of donors to show if it is citizen-driven.

Republican Houston At-Large City Councilmember Stephen Costello recently invited local bloggers to attend a briefing about Renew Houston. I went to this briefing.

Mr. Costello is leading this issue. Why is a Republican leading a citywide push in a Democratic city where there are so many unmet needs that go unaddressed year-after-year?

I don’t know. Next time you see one of our Democratic Councilmembers, ask them what it is they do all day.

While I support as a matter of principle large government programs meant to fix or build stuff, and that will employ people,—with the exception of taxpayer funds to build our Nero-like sports stadiums—I have questions about Renew Houston.

The sentence below is from the Chronicle story about one of the major funding sources for the plan–

“…. the “Stormwater User Fee” that is expected to amount to about $5 per month for an average homeowner and $90 a month for an average commercial property owner with 14 units per acre.”

This is a flat or regressive fee. With Renew Houston, property owners will pay the same no matter the value of the property. Should progressive ends be met by regressive means?

I also wonder who will get the jobs created over the life of the program.

On the introductory mailer sent out to voters in Houston, there was a so-called “union bug.”  This is a small union logo showing that the printing was done by a union shop.

That’s fine. I believe in unions. But what the bug suggested to me was that the Renew Houston people have gone to the unions, and said that jobs that union members may get will be forthcoming if they get on-board to support the initiative.

It is time to expand the pool of qualified blue-collar job seekers in Houston with an aggressive  program of apprenticeship and outreach into the most chronically poor Houston neighborhoods.There is no reason unions could not be part of this effort. Maybe also we could train some new engineers and college educated professionals along the way.

Mayor Annise Parker, a Democrat, could insist upon this as a condition of her backing of the plan. If  she did this, maybe Ms. Parker could expand her support in the next election beyond just over half of the 16% of people who voted in the 2009 election. People in every part of Houston would see that they matter at City Hall.

District I  Councilmember James Rodriguez could do the same. At his campaign web home, Mr. Rodriguez talks about “Bringing capital improvement  projects to the district” and “Promoting development that embraces the expectations of all our stakeholders”

Here’s your chance Mr. Rodriguez. Are people in your district going to get a fair share of this regressively-funded, taxpayer-sponsored program, or are they going to be shut-out in a closed shop? You could walk around Harrisburg Blvd, and Canal Street, and Navigation Blvd. and tell folks that you are going to fight for them, instead of relying on low-turnout and keeping your mouth shut as a reelection strategy.

(Below–As illustrated here, infrastructure is quite metaphoric. Here we see that all is connected. If there is a new source of revenue and a new source of jobs in Houston, then there will be those who get the beneficial runoff of prosperity and others who will be left high and dry.)

A final concern I have is the lack of any green plans in the Renew Houston strategy presentation I was shown.

The latest issue of the excellent urban policy magazine Next American City talks about ways to reduce the flow of rainwater into drainage systems with urban gardens, rain barrels, more trees and other plans. ( I subscribe to Next American City and suggest that you do the same.)

Renew Houston should discuss and implement long-term efforts to reduce the strain on our drainage systems with some of these green plans. In this way, what we build will work better and last longer.

I’m certain an enlightened progressive like Mayor Parker would not support this program unless it employed green strategies.

Though, I do note that in her campaign plank on infrastructure, Ms. Parker says nothing about green efforts on these important and costly plans.

(Below–An urban garden in Minneapolis planted to treat storm water from the concrete parking lot also in the picture.)

For the moment, I’m withholding support for Renew Houston until the issues I mention here are addressed. While meeting an important need of infrastructure improvement,  Renew Houston also seems narrowly-crafted to benefit engineering firms, to benefit those already in the pipeline for jobs to the exclusion of people who could benefit from training and work, and to use methods of drainage and waste-water removal not up to date with the new demands of sustainable urban living.

My fellow Houston bloggers Perry Dorrell, Charles KuffnerJohn Coby and Tory Gattis were at the briefing and have written posts on Renew Houston. Each of these bloggers is committed to a better Houston and their views should be considered.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments